So, why do I go on like this,
Not living where you live, O life?
I die shot through
With arrows sharpened
By all my heart conceives of my beloved.
Since you’ve wounded my heart, why,
Why don’t you make it whole?
You’ve stolen it—
Why leave it lying
And not make off with what you’ve plundered?
(John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 8 and 9)
We were not made for ourselves. “You made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (St Augustine, Confessions, Bk 1). Yet often within us we feel this painful, bleeding chasm, the rupture caused by sin. We were made for God, and yet sin has cleaved us in two. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Rom 7:15)
As we begin to perceive those whispers of God in our ear, our hearts start to simmer. This small flame begins to grow and grow, just like the passion of two lovers. Soon we are consumed by this desire, and yet we still bear the scars of sin. We want to be free to fly to God, and yet we feel suffocated by chains we don’t rightly understand. We cry out to our Beloved to free us, and yet paradoxically he who once seemed so close, now seems far off. We feel with St John of the Cross that he has stolen our heart, that he has struck us from afar, but then run off, leaving us wounded.
And yet, it is this very flame, this very wound of love by which he draws us into his embrace.